Medieval Subway - St. Virgil Chapel
A Museum of the Middle Ages
The Chapel of St. Virgil was discovered in 1973 during the building of the subway line and was integrated soon after into the Wien Museum network of sites. This fascinating underground chapel is one of the best-preserved Gothic interior spaces in Vienna. Many questions concerning the early days of the chapel remain unanswered, however, for no written records about its thirteenth-century construction have been found.
To this day, we do not know who built the Chapel of St. Virgil, and the original use of this sacred space is shrouded in mystery. We do know that the chapel dates back to around 1220- 1230, and that it was conceived as the foundation of another early-Gothic chapel planned for Stephansplatz.
After the building of a partially submerged mezzanine level above the subterranean structure, the chapel and the space beneath it were used for a variety of purposes from the early fourteenth century onward. The original structure (visible again today as the Chapel of St. Virgil) served as a devotional chapel for an influential Viennese merchant family involved in the textile trade. Among other things, the chapel was outfitted with an altar dedicated to St. Virgil, and the mezzanine level was set aside for use as an ossuary. The Chapel of Mary Magdalen above was subsequently used as a cemetery chapel. At the same time, its galleries provided a gathering space for the “Schreiberzeche,” a confraternity of scribes and notaries.
The Chapel of St. Virgil was temporarily closed in 2008 due to conservational concerns, but is again open to the public after comprehensive restoration measures. A visitorfriendly entrance on the subway thoroughfare level (U-Bahn-Passage) grants access to this fascinating sacred space, while a compact exhibition provides a historical summary of medieval Vienna. With the reopening of the Chapel of St. Virgil, the Wien Museum is present once again in the heart of the city. On the weekend of December 12-13, the Chapel of St. Virgil will hold an open house with free admission.
Tue – Sun & holiday, 10 am until 6 pm
Closed: 1st of January, 1st of May & 25th of December
Source: Wien Museum